The only constant in laws and policies is change, and this is as true in federal employment as it is in other areas of law. As one administration takes over for another, it tries to repeal the old and bring its own in approach.
Once again, the legal landscape for federal employees will change along with the presidential administration change.
Personal Improvement Plan (PIP) timing
One thing that the prior administration attempted to effect was an increase in efficiency and empowerment of federal employers to remove underperforming workers. To do so, the time required for a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) was reduced and standardized to 30 days. Previously, a PIP for federal employees could run anywhere from 30 days to 120 days. Further, the last administration repealed the requirement for federal employers to help their employees show improvement under the plans.
However, according to a report from the Federal News Network, the current administration and supporters see these changes differently. Rather than a means for greater efficiency and empowerment of employers, these changes are seen as limiting employers’ ability to handle discipline, performance and personal issues within their respective departments. Further, some cases are not as simple as they appear, so allowing each employer to have more time to resolve these matters reduces the chance of eliminating their workforce prematurely. Finally, the possibility of litigation and other problems from disgruntled employees potentially increases as a result of the prior administration’s changes.
Rolling back the clock
Because of these concerns, the current administration will be repealing the changes to federal employment law regarding PIPs.
This is potentially good news for federal employees who might be facing performance issues and who could be on a PIP at some point. With more leeway for employers to work with employees, the ability to be flexibility in terms of time available for PIPs, many employees going through difficult times or struggling through a learning curve at work could salvage their employment under the new paradigm.
Perhaps the most significant rollback will be the requirement that employers help struggling employees improve and report those improvements. In many cases, employee struggles in all types of jobs arise because of poor training or difficulty in the administrative tasks involved with reporting success. Perfectly good employees who are struggling with peripheral tasks or have received insufficient training should not find their jobs in jeopardy as a result.
Especially in a time when the economy is struggling and people are struggling to find and retain employment, federal employers should be empowered and incentivized to do everything they can to help their workforces succeed.